Do You Have Forgiveness Upside Down?
Until recent years, I thought that forgiveness was something you begrudgingly gave to someone who said they were sorry for something they did. I now realize I had it upside down. I’ve learned that forgiveness is not something you give to or do for someone else. It’s a liberating gift you give to YOURSELF. We forgive for our own health and well-being. People who forgive are less angry, more hopeful, less depressed, anxious, and stressed. It allows us to channel that negative energy into something better instead of replaying the pain over and over. Maybe you’ve heard of the saying, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
We’ve all had people who have wronged us, betrayed us, and hurt us. Just to be clear, forgiveness is not letting these offenders off the hook or letting the offense recur again and again. In fact, the other person doesn’t even have to ask for forgiveness nor do we have to tell them we have forgiven them. It’s helpful when we can see the negative behavior as wrong but also realize that none of us are perfect and sometimes we do or say things because of unmet needs or stressful situations. Then we can condemn the bad behavior without condemning the person. However, it doesn’t mean forgetting and it doesn’t mean we need to necessarily reconcile and have a relationship with the other person.
Forgiveness is more about an inner change in us – we stop living in the past of the hurtful event and accept that it happened and that there is nothing we can do about it. We see how our lack of forgiveness or resentment is now hurting us more as we hang onto that past event. As Jack Kornfield said “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.” It’s also important to realize that forgiveness is not a one time event, it is a process with bumpy times and easier times.
Consider writing a letter of forgiveness to someone who has hurt you. The point is not to send it, but to work through the process with yourself.
To learn more about forgiveness, visit www.thepowerofforgiveness.com.
Tina Hallis, Ph.D., a professional speaker and consultant for The Positive Edge, shares the Science of Success with organizations who want to create a more positive workplace so they can activate their people’s productivity and performance.